A coalition of agricultural organisations has raised concerns about the potential negative impact to US farmers of removing China’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status, which the US Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party was proposing to recommend to Congress, World Grain wrote.

A letter sent to the select committee was led by Farmers for Free Trade, which has many of the nation’s leading agricultural organisations as members, the 12 December report said.

In the letter, the coalition said that in 2022, the USA exported US$38.1bn in food and agricultural products to China, a 22-fold increase since China gained PNTR status in 2000.

“China is now the largest buyer of US food and agricultural products, purchasing 19% of our exports,” the letter said.

“These exports are critical to America’s farmers and rural communities. When trade frictions arise between our countries, those exports are threatened.”

While acknowledging committee concerns regarding China, the coalition was quoted as saying trade actions that passed the burden on to farmers to address those issues was the wrong approach.

Tariff increases in 2018 and 2019 led to the significant loss of US agricultural exports with China accounting for 95% of the losses (US$25.7bn), according to the coalition.

The coalition had urged Congress instead to help bolster and diversify alternative market access in the Asia-Pacific region, saying that would decrease reliance on the Chinese market, World Grain wrote.

“As you finalise that report, we … urge this … committee not to recommend revoking China’s PNTR status,” the coalition said. “The negative consequences for American farmers, ranchers and food producers would be profound and the economic impact on American workers and rural communities would be felt for years.”

Signatories to the letter included The Almond Alliance, the American Soybean Association, the Corn Refiners Association, The Distilled Spirits Council of the US, Farmers for Free Trade, the Iowa Soybeans Association, the Leather and Hide Council of America, the Meat Institute, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Sorghum Producers, the Northwest Horticultural Council, the US Apple Association, the US Dairy Export Council and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.